Today marks 100 years since some women won the right to vote in the parliamentary elections. About 78% of women were initially granted the vote but those who were working class or under 30 had to wait another decade.
The Suffragette movement was started by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Sylvia & Christabel. During the campaign, many of their followers were imprisoned and went on hunger strike. In 1923 Emily Davison died for the cause when she walked out on to the Epson race track and was hit by King George V’s horse.
This activism inspired the design work of one of our students, Eshé Brown who chose to make her apparel branding and packaging project centred around feminist icons just like Emily.
Tutor Nick Williams, former Head of Graphics for Levis, set the project brief asking students to design a branding identity for either a denim brand of their choice or, create a brand new denim concept.
Eshé explains: “My aim was to create a denim range that appealed to women but not in the traditional fashion sense i.e. how clothes make you look. I wanted my designs to educate and inspire young women and girl’s minds. Feminism is very much part of the current zeitgeist and brands can be part of a positive change by spreading the message of equality.
“I decided to design a collection for Diesel, based on some of history’s greatest women. The idea being each style of jeans is attached to a unique female figure who has achieved something remarkable and is a positive role model. Diesel is an international brand so I felt it was important to select women from around the globe with a variety of achievements. For each item bought from the collection, a percentage would be donated to a cause the icon is associated with e.g. The Malala Fund.
“The project began with us designing a logo using Adobe Illustrator – a program I’d not used before the course – but one I quickly became used to. I drew inspiration for the colours and typography from Art Deco, a popular style during the Suffragette movement, blending this with modern bitmap imaging.
“Following this, we used Photoshop to apply our branding to various elements of our jeans, such as the rivets on the sides of jean pockets, buttons, leather pocket patches and stitching.
“Once our denim designs were complete we then moved on to design a t-shirt as part of the range, which we then screen-printed locally.
“The final part to the project was the packaging for the range, which included designing and printing swings tags, pocket labels and, in my case, a branded foldable box with an interchangeable bellyband to slide over it.
“Before the course, I didn’t realise how much thought and design went into branding denim, but Nick Williams was a brilliant tutor and he showed us several examples of the designs he’d worked on at Puma, Levis and Nautica to inspire us. I learnt that inside many jeans, there are often hidden branding elements, such as the salvage, which will be sewn in using the brand’s colours. The brand will always have a story behind the designs too – it’s not just there because it looks good!”
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